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Putting Laminate On Your Arcade Cabinet

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Over the last 3 years my skill set and my desire to attempt more complex restoration processes has grown. I guess with any hobby you gather an accumulation of skill sets and hope to build upon those sets. In the past I would have never attempted something as complex as installing custom cut laminate on a cabinet, but here we are.

Woodgrain laminate... ah the 80's.

Most vintage arcade cabinets use laminate for the sides and fronts of the cabinet. This can take the form of woodgrain or a solid color. Sometimes heat pressed artwork or decals are places over the laminate such as the side art in Donkey Kong. Laminate offers a shiny and smooth look, along with a easy to clean surface to boot. Although many times collectors will repaint games to restore them (and some games were indeed painted and not laminated) paint cannot give the deep shine or gloss of laminate no matter how much you sand it or pile on the top coats of sealant. Laminate is just a very unique material that allows for great results on arcade cabinets.

Laminate is worth the hassle

Worn but not defeated Nintendo orange laminate

Many collectors will attempt to reapply laminate to classic Nintendo titles, or to the fronts of Atari cabinets. But if you are going to make your cabinet truly pop or look original with a through restoration process I would challenge you to give laminate a try. With a little patience, and the help of a buddy you can easily make that scratch built cabinet or conversion look like a million bucks. So join me, put down that paint brush, and pick up that adhesive because we are going to go laminating for....uh laminate.

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